Mamata govt completes one year on May 20

Last Updated: Fri, May 18, 2012 15:01 hrs

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government of West Bengal is all set to complete one year in office on May 20.

The TMC-Congress combine recreated history in the paradigm of West Bengal politics as they unseated the Left after 34 years in the east Indian state.

A year ago, Banerjee was seen walking her way to the state secretariat Writers´ Buildings after taking the oath as the first woman Chief Minister of the state.

However, the honeymoon period was soon over and the government faced several barbs and criticisms in the past one year.

From the Park Street rape incident to the arrest of a Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahpatra for sending out e-mails with a cartoon of Banerjee, the state government has dragged itself into several controversies during this period.

The arrest of Molecular biologist Partho Sarothi Ray for his alleged role in protesting against the eviction of slum dwellers in Kolkata´s Nonadanga area and the decision of the state government to keep out the the largest circulated dailies from the state libraries sparked protests in Bengal.

People of West Bengal arguably disliked the state government´s decision to rename it as 'Paschim Banga´.

The new name was suggested by Banerjee.

The decision came nearly ten years after the name West Bengal´s capital city Calcutta was changed to 'Kolkata'.

The relationship of TMC with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government also passed through several ups and downs in the past one year with Banerjee opposing the Centre over numerous issues including the FDI in retail, hike in petrol prices and over the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

Speaking at the crucial meeting of the Chief Ministers on NCTC in New Delhi on May 5, Banerjee said: "It is unfortunate that in utter disregard to these federal principles, the NCTC was set up by an executive order dated February 3, 2012 of the Union Home Ministry without adequate consultations with the States."

"These kinds of unilateral steps of the Union Government in matters which fall within the jurisdictions of the States only increase the trust-deficit between the Centre and States," she said.

Cleared by the union cabinet in February, the NCTC proposal was intended to bolster the security architecture of the country to fix gaping holes in the nation's anti-terror machinery exposed by the 2008 Mumbai attacks, that killed 166 people and wounded over 300.

Several Chief Ministers including Banerjee, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa have voiced their opposition to the setting up of the NCTC.

However, Banerjee´s government also passed through several high points which included the CM earning a place on Time magazine's chart enlisting the 100 most influential people of the world.

Earlier this month, Banerjee and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Kolkata for nearly an hour.

At the end of the meeting, Banerjee said USA assured to invest in the eastern state.

The government also met success in tackling the Maoist problem in early days when Maoist leader Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji was killed in November during an encounter between the rebels and the security forces in the forests of West Midnapore in West Bengal.

In an attempt to pacify the troubles in the hills, Banerjee was successful to broker the tripartite Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Agreement (GTA) that was signed on July last year.

The GTA reportedly provided immense amount of possible autonomy to the troubled hills under the centre and state laws.

She also promised several developmental package for the hills.

Reacting to the completion of one year of the state government, Harsh K Jha, President, The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: " Despite having inherited a financial catastrophe, Mamata Banerjee, Hon'ble Chief Minister of West Bengal has largely been able to address her 3 prominent election agendas by part resolving the Jangalmahal, Singur and Gorkha Hill crises."

"She also deserves high marks for largely avoiding post-poll violence, taking a strict stance against subversive activities like bandhs and bringing Bengal back in the national limelight in the realm of arts and culture," Jha said in a statement.

"Through her persistence, she is also almost on the verge of a breakthrough with the Centre on getting the financial package for the State. But what next? The Government has been largely silent on the path that needs to be traversed to create revenue, since without inherent wealth creation, growth will neither be sustainable nor inclusive.

"Investment proposals have remained largely on paper and critically the perception that it is not safe or easy to do business in the State needs to change, Mrs. Hillary Clinton's visit notwithstanding," Jha said.

"The ruling Party is also creating roadblocks for the Central Government in almost every legislation / policy of national economic importance including the removal of the Railway Minister for doing something that was necessary and in fact commendable," Jha said.

"A glimmer of hope is offered through a somewhat newfound systematic approach post AMRI and Infosys, following which there was a period of decline in business confidence.

"The West Bengal Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 2012 to lift the bar on holding of `excess land' and lease deeds, reaching out to industrialists in the State and meeting and creating quite an impression on the visiting US Secretary of State, can be termed as a new beginning, the latter having every possibility of blooming into deep strategic and business ties with USA and US companies," Jha said.

"She has the mandate to rule for 1825 days but has only done so for 365 days. Under given conditions, she deserves a 6 on 10," Jha said.

(Reporting by Supriyo Hazra)

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